In New Zealand, the land of my birth, you can find people of many religions (with a bit over 50% professing to be Christian) but not a lot of religious activity.... Unless you include sport.
An ex boss related how when he was a teenager and playing rugby at a high level, he went to some coaching camp. The coach turned out to be a Catholic Marist monk, who turned up in his priestly garb, and put the boys straight. He told them, "Religion is my job. Rugby is my religion."
In 2006 NZ census 34% responded "no religion" and a further 7% gave no response or objected to the question. The country ranks high in the freedom of speech and freedom from corruption charts.
Thailand, where I live at present, religion is a significant part of life for many, if not most. Well over 90% are Buddhist, and about 6% are Muslim. The country doesn't rate well on the freedom of speech and corruption stakes.
Phuket is probably the most cosmopolitan province in Thailand. About a third of the local population are Muslim. Most of the rest are Buddhist, or animist Sea Gypsies. There are also significant numbers of Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, and even a small Jewish community.
__________________ there are old motorcyclists and bold motorcyclists,
but you seldom meet an old bold motorcyclist
Hmmm. I guess that in theory (or de jure) my country is Dutch Reformed Christian; but with the fragmentation of the church into various pieces, it's more of a pluralist country. It still has it's law as derived from Divine authority (It usually starts with We [Royal Plural], Beatrix etc. etc., ruling by the grace of God), but in practice we're quite secular or at the least pluralist.
I don't live in a secular society, but we do live under an officially secular government in the US, as established under the First Amendment of the Constitution (with a few traditional contradictions such as using Bibles to swear oaths of office and writing "In God We Trust" on the money).
There still seems to be an argument here over the proper degree of "separation of Church and State" (which is not a Constitutional principle but rather a viewpoint of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence), in that some believe there should be zero religion allowed in any government activity and others believe that total intolerance of religion in any government activity is a kind of persecution. I tend to side with the former by asking myself if I would want to be subjected to a prayer from (insert religion X here) during a governmental function and the answer is absolutely not. On the other hand, I will not/do not get myself exercised over it if and when it crops up.
It's amazing to me that in some European countries, taxes are collected from the local community and used to support the local churches (for building upkeep perhaps (historical/cultural preservation?). Are these taxes collected by the religious entity occupying the building, or by a local government that is responsible for the physical maintenance of the structure?
Thanks for your thoughts. I would like to live in a secular country. I think that the House of Lords should be abolished over here. We have had a lot of immigrants in Great Britain over the last 60 years or so, and that has changed our society somewhat. Mainly for the good, in my opinion. I do think that government and religion should be kept apart. I do believe in freedom of religion, or lack of it. In reality, Great Britain is one of the most culturally diverse and religiously tolerant societies in the world. Most people from different cultural backgrounds get along reasonably well with each other. It just doesn't seem to make sense that the Church of England should have any more influence than any other religious group in our country. I think the founding fathers of the USA got it right. In my mind, religion has no place in government, all religions claim that they are the true religion, and all the others are wrong. If one religion is backed by the state, does this make all other religions feel that they are being marginalised? Do those people feel that they should support that state, when it doesn't support their view? The only answer is for governments to remain religiously neutral, so that all it's citizens can feel part of that nation, whatever their beliefs, or lack of.
You meet the nicest people on a Honda.
The United States is more secular than it thinks. We are a religious people inasmuch as we pay lip service to Christianity. Where the rubber meets the road, however, we are not at all driven by those concepts.
The foam-flecked preachers have a point, then. And the theocracy they desire would make the only life we know we have here on Earth a living Hell. Three cheers for secularism!
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I think Secularism is good for religious groups as well as Atheists, such as myself. In the only two countries that are secular, that I actually know something about, the people in the USA are generally more religious than the UK. In Turkey, which is 95% Muslim, people seem more religious over there too. When we go over there on holiday, we are within earshot of at least three mosques, which recite the call to prayer five times a day.
You meet the nicest people on a Honda.
In the USA, the government must as a minimum, acknowledge the existence of some form of God from where come the citizen's freedom and rights..... Rights that come from a higher authority and therefore the government can not take away. This is a unique concept and one that governments do not necessarily favor; because governments like to think that citizen's rights are given to them by the government, which at the same time implies that the government can also take those rights and freedoms away. For this reason, a completely secular society becomes a totalitarian state.
Last edited by Deanohh; 11-04-2012 at 05:14 PM.
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